Written by Karen D. Swim
As if we had not tortured and twisted the American language enough, an entire new lexicon has arisen as a result of social media. Our language is now populated by pop culture colloquialisms, abbreviated text speak and social media-isms. Add industry jargon to the mix and you have a communication nightmare.
What Say You?
Me: Here in MI our local ABC station follows that practice, it’s great.
Twitter Friend: I’m new to twitter speak, what’s MI?
In the above exchange I used the standard postal abbreviation for Michigan – MI – assuming that I was being inclusive with my language choice. Think again. We have become so accustomed to strange abbreviations and new words on Twitter that MI could have stood for anything.
Travis: I’ll work on the feed and get it corrected, thanks for your help.
Me: No problem, ping me when it’s fixed and I’ll add you to my reader.
Travis: Oh, I don’t use Ping yet but I know I should learn
Me: No, not Ping.fm the service, I meant email or IM me to let me know when it’s done
See how confusing our language has become. We have created a virtual tower of Babel where it’s a wonder that we are still able to carry on conversations. We are friending, tweeting, linking, plurking, kwipping, blogging, shouting, skyping and on occasion hitting each other on our cellies. No wonder, even Dutch words have taken on a familiarity for me of late. These days I am as comfortable with unfamiliar foreign languages as my native tongue of English.
Think Before you Speak or Text
Yes, your mother was right. I have stuck my foot in my mouth more times than I care to admit when I have not taken a moment to think before opening my big fat mouth. The removal of facial gestures and inflections makes communicating in writing even more hazardous. Pause before you hit the send button and make sure that your message will be read as intended.
So What Does That Have to Do with The Tea In China?
Now more than ever it is important to strive for clear communication. It is easier to have our words taken out of context, misunderstood or even unknowingly offend. Clear and simple language, free of jargon will foster understanding when communicating with a large and diverse audience.
Regional language and colloquial phrases are a wonderful way to add color to your communications but use them wisely. Phrases that are appropriate on one platform can be easily misunderstood on another.
I am going to make a greater effort to not be Misunderstood in MI, after all the whole point of social media is to communicate which implies being understood.
How do you manage our bourgeoning language? Do you have any personal practices or tips to share?